Ottomanism, Republicanism, Nationalism I

My latest thoughts at the group blog Notes On Liberty

Notes On Liberty

The Republican experiment in Turkey goes back formally to 1923, when Mustafa Kemal (later Kemal Atatürk) proclaimed the Republic of Turkey after the deposition of the last Ottoman Sultan, becoming the first President of the Republic after holding the office of Speaker of the National Assembly. The office of Caliph (commander of the faithful), which had a symbolic universalism for Muslim believers world wide and was held by the Ottoman dynasty, was abolished in the following year. The Republic, as you would expect in the early 20s, was founded on intensely nationalistic grounds, creating a nation for Turks distinct from the Ottoman system which was created in an era of religiously defined and personalised rule rather than ethnic-national belonging.

The move in a republican-national direction can be taken back to the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, which itself put down a counterrevolution in 1909, and might be taken as a…

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Law, Judgement, Republicanism

My latest thoughts at the Group Blog Notes on Liberty

Notes On Liberty

Draft material for a joint conference paper/Work in Progress on a long term project

This paper comes out of a long term project to work on ideas of liberty in relation to republicanism in political thought, along with issues of law and sovereignty. The paper in question here comes out of collaborative work on questions of law, judgement, and republicanism in relation to Turkey’s history and its current politics. Though this comes from collaborative work, I take sole responsibility for this iteration of draft material towards a joint conference paper, drafted with the needs of a blog with a broad audience in mind.

The starting point is in Immanuel Kant with regard to his view of law and judgement. His jurisprudence, mostly to be found in the first part of the Metaphysics of Morals on ‘The Doctrine of Right’, is that of law based on morality, so is an…

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Turkey after the Election

My latest thoughts on Turkey, focusing on the recent election, at the group blog Notes On Liberty

Notes On Liberty

Grim Facts

Turkey held National Assembly and Presidential elections last Sunday (24th June). Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan won an overall majority of votes and retained the presidency without a second round of voting. The pro-Erdoğan electoral list of his AKP (Justice and Development Party/Adelet ve Kalkınma Partisi) and the older (the second oldest party in Turkey) but smaller MHP (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi/Nationalist Action Party) took a majority of votes. The MHP took more votes than the breakaway Good Party (İYİ Parti/IP), though IP’s leader (Meral Akşener) is more popular than the MHP leader (Devlet Bahçeli) and the IP has more members.

The MHP broke through the 10% barrier to entry into the National Assembly in the votes cast for it, within the joint electoral list, though it was mostly expected to fall short by a distinct margin. Since the more moderate elements of the MHP joined IP, MHP forms part of…

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Turkey elections: Elections, Rappers, Media, Micro-Party, Rigging, Iraq

My latest thought on the Turkish election and its context at the group blog Notes On Liberty

Notes On Liberty

The Turkish State’s War On Rap

The election campaign has not slowed down the Erdoğanist state in its efforts to punish anyone who deviates from Erdoğan’s ideal of obedient, socially conservative, and conformist citizens. One of the best known Turkish rappers, Ezhel, with very leftist and counter culture lyrics, has been arrested recently for ‘encouraging drug use’. A prosecutor ordered his detention, which was implemented after he voluntarily went to the police station to answer a ‘complaint’, with no warning about detention. Onur Dinç (known as Khontkar), and Young Bego have also been detained. They can all be found on Spotify and YouTube. Listening on Spotify generates a little income for people who deserve a bit of solidarity at the moment.

İnce’s Presidential Campaign

An interview on HaberTürk TV with the leading opposition candidate for President of Turkey, Muharrem İnce (from the secularist, centre-left Republican People’s Party), has…

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Latest thoughts on Brexit: Its Decay, Italy (and Ireland), Cars, and Giving up British Citizenship

Latest thoughts on Brexit: Its Decay, Italy (and Ireland), Cars, and Giving up British Citizenship

Notes On Liberty

The slow decay of Brexit: a Rule-Taking Country

I don’t mean that the UK will stay in the EU. I fully expect it to formally depart next year. If the poor performance of the UK economy compared with the Eurozone continues, I also expect the UK to rejoin in a few decades, when the growth divergence is not just in figures, but felt in everyday life, such as when people find it too expensive to travel in Europe or buy goods from Europe; if they do travel they notice that everything seems expensive and there are more nice things abroad than at home, while European tourists will seem to have huge amounts of money to throw around.

It might or might not work out like that, but the point here is that the UK, behind headlines about soft versus hard Brexit, is moving towards an ‘alignment’ with the single market…

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More on the Turkish Elections

My second piece of the group blog Notes On Liberty, on the elections in Turkey

Notes On Liberty

This is a sequel to my recent post Turkish Elections: Some Hope, so is best read after reading its predecessor.

In the last post, I covered the National Assembly elections on the 24th June. The first round of the presidential elections will take place on the same day and there will be a run-off between the two main candidates on the 8th July, if no candidate gets more than 50% on the first round.

As by far the strongest personality in Turkish politics over the last 15 years, Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan was no doubt expecting to win in the first round easily. He did so in 2014 when he was first elected to the presidency at a time when the president’s powers were much smaller. The two largest opposition parties of the time (CHP and MHP) put up a joint presidential candidate little known to the public and who…

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Me on Foucault and 2 Types of Neoliberalism in a Turkish Journal

‘Foucault on Two Types of Neoliberalism: ORDO Liberalism and Anarcholiberalism, along with European Historical Roots’ (in English) in Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, latest issue. See linked pdf, my article starts page 187. It represents early work for a project on Foucault and liberty (also nodding towards work on philosophy of Europe).


Michel Foucault is well known for writing on Neoliberalism, but the richness of his approach should be better understood, along with its place in his work as a whole. Foucault does not refer to Neoliberalism as one thing, but as divided into two types: Ordoliberalism and anarcholiberalism. That is between a more institutional version allowing for some state direction and a more anti-statist version. This overlaps with a distinction between Europe and the United States. It also connects with Foucault’s interests in the relation between the roles of Germany and France in European history with regard to state sovereignty and law. The interaction of France and Germany has produced various conflicting and coalescing ideas of liberty and the state up to the way Neoliberal ideas have circulated. In the context of Foucault’s own development, his investigations into Neoliberalism build on work on Enlightenment liberalism, bringing in Phenomenological anti-naturalism as a way of understanding the difference. It also builds on work on the development of political economy from its earliest texts to the work of Marx. The discussion of earlier political economy emphasises its place in a philosophy of history and humanism, which is recontextualised in Foucault’s work on Neoliberalism. Foucault’s work on the inevitability of blindness and subjectivity in epistemology, along with the role of subjectivity in ethics, also develops through the encounter with Neoliberalism.